NWS Issuance of Polygon-Based Snow Squall Warning and Dust Storm Warning and Dust Advisory for High Impact Events (96)

Andy Horvitz, NOAA/NWS/Analyze, Forecast and Support Office, Silver Spring, MD

David Soroka, NOAA/NWS/Analyze, Forecast and Support Office

Elliott Jacks, NOAA/NWS/Analyze, Forecast and Support Office

Michelle Hawkins, NOAA/NWS/Analyze, Forecast and Support Office

Ken Waters, NOAA/NWS Forecast Office



Snow Squalls and Dust Storms are unique, extremely localized extreme weather events that can result in high impact to the public and commerce. Currently, hazard messages for these events are issued via generic Special Weather Statements (SPS) that are not enabled by Valid Time Event Code (VTEC) nor are their respective Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) elements populated with values which would foster enhanced dissemination. In sharp contrast, these new products are short-fused, polygon-based, and leverage VTEC and CAP to facilitate dissemination, achieve more widespread distribution, and effective Decision Support Service.

There has been a long-standing need for the National Weather Service (NWS) to effectively disseminate this highly-localized information to our partners who depend upon VTEC and CAP to recognize and parse our warning products for their customers. In addition, the capability to define localized areas of threat (e.g., as is available for severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, and flash floods through the use of NWS WarnGen software) improves communication to the public via Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) and dissemination via the Emergency Alert System (EAS). The polygon-based Snow Squall Warning (VTEC code SQW) and Dust Storm Warning and Dust Advisory products (VTEC codes DS.W and DS.Y, respectively) provide critical, life-saving information for these short-term, highly localized, extreme hazardous events to our partners in machine-readable formats, and enables our users to parse the products and make them available to their customers.

Effective in January 2018, the NWS began an operational demonstration for the highly localized Snow Squall Warning at the following Weather Forecast Offices (WFOs): State College, PA, Buffalo and Binghamton, NY, Burlington, VT, Pittsburgh, PA, and Cheyenne, WY. The first issuances occurred at the Binghamton, NY WFO on February 2nd. Later this summer, the operational demonstration for the highly localized Dust Storm Warning and Dust Advisory will occur at WFOs Phoenix and Tucson, AZ. The software which provides the capability to issue these products is scheduled to be implemented in a phased manner to all NWS applicable offices through the summer of 2018.